The Ika people

By: Joseph Onyeche

The reader is advised to note that the facts presented here in no way represents the whole facts of the history of the Ika people. The more detailed description of the Agbor clan (one of the Ika eleven clans) more than the other clans is only due to the materials available to the writer at the time of writing. More research on the part of the reader is encouraged. For the complete bibliography/Sources of citations in this work, write to the webmaster.


In this work there will be a description of the Ika community, the various Ika clans and their claimed sources of origins. These accounts of origins will be based on oral traditions and legends of the various clans as well as some historical facts documented by ethnologists, historians and colonial officials.


Geographically, the Ika speaking people are found in the north west of Delta State. They share borders linguistically in the west with the Edo speakers, in the north with the Ishan speakers, in the East with the Aniocha language speakers and in the south with the Ukwuani speakers.

Politically, Ika speakers are mainly found in two local government areas, Ika North East and Ika South local government areas, both created in 1991 from a single Ika Local Government Area, in Delta State. Ika South and Ika North East local government areas, occupy a land area of 117.45 square kilometres (Delta State Government website, 1999) with a total population of about 240,000 people. There are other Ika speaking people that are political outside the Ika North east and Ika South local government areas. The exact population of speakers of the Ika language or those with Ika as mother tongue is not known since this information was not included in the 1991 census result (1991 census). Ika people do not have any shared physical characteristics distinguishing it from other ethnic or language groups in Delta State.

In this work, Ika North East and Ika South local government areas of Delta State, will be referred to as the Ika community although there are some Ika language speaking areas (i.e. Igbanke) outside these two local government areas. The Ika community is made up of eleven independent groups, which I will refer to as clans, and a metropolis. All eleven Ika clans speak a common language, the Ika language, with a cluster of dialects, which belongs to the Igboid group (Williamson 1968). There are however, no significant differences between these dialects but mainly phonological and lexical variation.

Origin of the name Ika

Although earlier colonial documents have referred to the present Ika people as Ika speaking people (Marshall 1936, Whiting 1936, Simpson 1936, Denton 1937, and Stanfield 1936), the present Ika people have not always been the only group known by the name, Ika. Forde and Jones (1967) used the term Ika for a wider community, which included the present Ika group. Ika was used by Forde and Jones (1967) to represent the inland parts of the four groups that make up the western Igbo group (Aniocha, Oshimili, Ika and Ukwuani) found in present Delta State away from the shores of the river Niger. The remaining members of these groups that are on the shores of the river Niger i.e. Asaba, Aboh and others were referred to as Riverain Ibo (Forde and Jones 1967: 49-50). Within this Ika group the present Ika community was classified as Northern Ika along with Aniocha and Oshimili while the Ukwuani group was classified as Southern Ika (Forde and Jones 1967). However the origin and meaning of the name Ika and when only the present Ika community and their language began to be known and referred to by that name, which they retain until today, is not clear.

Ika Structure: Clans, villages (Ogbe), quarters (Idumu) and family units (nmunne)

As has been stated above, there are eleven clans and a metropolis that make up the Ika collective group, which I refer to as the Ika community. Except for the Idumuesah clan the rest ten are today also referred to as kingdoms as they have the hereditary kingship traditional system. The kings are known and referred to by the title of Obi (king), however the king of Agbor clan has changed his title from Obi to Dien for reasons not clear to me at this time. The following are the eleven clans and a metropolis that make up the Ika community:

1. Agbor clan,
2. Owa clan,
3. Abavo clan,
4. Ute-Okpu clan,
5. Ute-Ogbeje clan
6 Umunede clan,
7. Akumazi clan,
8. Igbodo clan,
9. Otolokpo clan,
10. Mbiri clan,
11. Idumuesah clan
12. Orogodo/Boji-Boji

Clan is used in this work to refer to the shared belief in a common lineage (or agbon) of descent held by members of each of the eleven Ika clans who occupy a certain land area. For instance Marshall (1936: 3) regarded Ute-Okpu clan as a "true clan" since all the units traced their "ancestry to a common origin." A lineage is regarded as a unilineal descent group composed of people who trace their genealogies through specified links to a common ancestor (Bates 1996). Although members of a clan may sometimes not be able to tangibly prove a blood relationship, it is the case that clans " derive from lineages that become too large or too dispersed to keep track of their genealogies" (Bates 1996: 218).

The concept of kings and kingdom in the Igbo speaking areas is a more modern concept (Nwaubani, 1994). Unlike clan, the concept of kingdom is more territorial. Kingdoms are not necessarily made up of groups with shared belief in common origin or groups that perceive each other as siblings. For instance, the Old Kingdom of Benin consisted of both the Edo and non-Edo speaking groups, which are not linguistically or genetically related to each other (Osae and Nwabara 1977). However, there are instances where descent groups and territorial groups intertwine (Tosh 1978). In describing how some kingdoms were formed, Isichei (1983) stated that:

"In some areas, where the celebrated kingdoms developed, a change seems to have taken place which often follows a similar pattern, whereby a multiplicity of small-scale states, whose ‘priest-kings’ were sometimes rulers of little territories…gave way to unified kingdoms (1983: 129)."

There has been no reliable documentation or account of such pattern of formation of kingdoms in the Ika area. There is no word in Ika language for ‘kingdom’ the closest word is ali (land). The different Ika clans, refer to the physical area or territory they occupy as ali, e.g. ali Owa, ali Abavo e.t.c. However, among each Ika clan people do not perceive their physical land space as being separate from the people and their ancestors. Although there is a coinage such as ali eze (King’s land) it still is not the equivalent of kingdom. Each of the Ika clans refer to themselves as nmu nne (siblings). For instance the members Abavo clan refer to themselves as nmu Abavo (children of Abavo) based on their belief in a common lineage of descent, which unites all the villages that make up ali Abavo (abavo clan). This applies to all the eleven Ika clans with or without kings.

The concept and belief held by the various Ika clans about their land, is no less powerful than that embodied by concept of kingdom. Members of each Ika clan have always regarded themselves and their land from the point of view of their belief in shared lineage of descent which created that collective consciousness causing them to refer to themselves as nmu nne (relatives or siblings) or clan. During the colonial period, there was a rise in new kingdoms (Nwaubani 1994). Any area with a king began to be regarded as a kingdom. Groups, such as in the Igbo speaking areas like some Ika clans that previously had no monarchical system, followed this pattern mainly because of the independence that the concept of kingdom implies (Intelligence report on Mbiri clan, 1932; Denton 1937). When kingship systems were created where there were previously none, in order to make administration easier for the colonial administrators, a kingdom was also created (Nwaubani 1994). However the concept of a land (ali) emphasised in clan concept made up of siblings has always been there, since the prehistoric times, in the mind of the people unlike kingdom whose emphasis is basically political.

Although I refer to the Ika collective group (all eleven clans) as a community, they are sometimes regarded as an ethnic group or tribe (Bates 1996; Lewis 1996; de la Gorgendiere 1996; Jenkins 1997). Bates describes tribe as:

"a decentralized descent-and kinship-based grouping in which a number of subgroups are loosely linked to one another… There is no centralized system of authority, decision making, or social control, but potential exists to unite a large number of local groups for common defense or warfare… The internal organization is similar in principle to that of the lineage or clan. Just how the lineages are expressed and maintained varies from society to society. One system is for two or more clans to see themselves as related, even though each group generally will act autonomously in managing its affairs. However, the sense of common identity can be called into play for defense" (1996: 219).

A tribe can be seen as sometimes containing several independent clans or what Bates (1996) called subgroups that are not necessarily related through shared lineage of descent (Gutane 2001). However, in this work, I will refer to Ika as a community instead of tribe or ethnic group due to the fluidness of the meaning of tribe and the emotion they sometimes evoke.

All eleven Ika clans are bound together by shared language, custom, culture and an unclear but strong belief in their oneness, though not like that which exists within individual clans. The Ikaness of all the clans is grounded in subjective and emotionally charged identification (Dahl 1996) which manifests itself in their belief system in the form of the gods such as o¤`zun (the god of iron) and in festivals like Igwe (New Year) and Iwa-igi (New yam festival) and general cosmology. Further, their share language, the Ika language, concretises their legendary sameness of origin. Ika clans are made up of villages and villages are made up of several quarters or idumu in the Ika language.

As in most parts of Nigeria, a village or Ogbe (Ika word for village) in the Ika area is sometimes geographically identifiable. Apart from modern government records of village boundaries, in most cases village boundaries are marked historically by certain natural markers like trees, hills, rivers, etc. A typical Ika village, or ogbe, consists of residential areas and a considerably vast farming area. Ika villages are made up of several quarters or Idumu (in the Ika language). The quarter (idumu) is made up of a family (nmu) or several family units depending on the size of the family. When a family gets too large for its present site it expands geographically forming a new quarter or Idumu (Marshall 1936: 6).

Ika villages or ogbe sometimes claim a common descent that could be described as nonunilineal (Bates 1996). This descent is usually narrowed down to a specific ancestor on the level of quarters, Idumu, which is usually made up of a unilineal descent group within a village. For instance Jegbefume, the Obi of Abavo, who ruled between 1910 and 1953 married fifty wives and had about two hundred children. These number of wives and children may have made up a substantial population of a quarter in the Abavo village called Ogbe-Obi which is the village of the royal family and since polygamy was a way of life the other quarters of Ogbe-Obi village may have been populated by other branches of the royal family (Amokwu and Jegbefume n.d).

The typical Ika family unit or nmunne consists of both immediate family unit directly linked by blood ties and the extended family unit linked by distant family ties which could sometimes be a ‘fictive kinship’ (Freed and Freed 1976: 148). This term will be used in this work not to indicate that the relationship or kinship is not real or genuine to the people involved, since it is as real to them as the extended family system, but that it is not biologically determined.

The non-biologically determined family tie is normal in many quarters (idumu), village (ogbe) and clans. It is usual for a family for a different ethnic or language group to migrate to an Ika village and is of good behaviour, participating in village activities and rituals, it is then accepted by the neighbours or the quarter, and later by the village elders. Finally, the family members are then accepted as members of that village thereby becoming entitled to all the benefits of membership (Forde and Jones 1967). Marriage is another way of establishing kinship between families (migrant or not) of different lineages. When a marriage takes place both families involved consider themselves related by marriage. However, the conditions (such as marriage) on which their relationship is built is most often forgotten after a generation or two, if there continues to be active positive interaction between both families, with both families considering themselves as simply related. According to Marshall (1936) it is indeed not clear at what stage a family, nmunne, evolves into Idumu, quarter.

Ika clans, structure and claimed account of origin
In this section I will be describing the structure of the various Ika clans. The origin of each Ika clan based on documented oral tradition will also be discussed in order to show the relationship between all eleven clans.


Agbor is and has always been the largest of the Ika clans. It was to the most politically and militarily powerful of all the Ika clans due to its constant war with Benin until the late nineteenth century (Isichei 1983 and Simpson 1936).

Agbor and Abavo clans make up Ika South Local Government Area while the rest make up Ika North East Local Government Area. Agbor clan consists of twenty-three villages and a metropolis known as Orogodo or Boji-Boji Agbor:

1. Ogbemudein
2. Ihogbe
3. Obielihe
4. Ihaikpen
5. Ogbeisore
6. Ogbeisogban
7. Agbamuse/Oruru
8. Alifekede
9. Omumu
10. Alisor
11. Alilehan
12. Alizomor
13. Ozanogogo (Ozara)
14. Alisimien
15. Ewuru
16. Idumu-Oza
17. Aliokpu
18. Alihami
19. Agbor-nta
20. Alihagwu
21. Oki
22. Ekuku-Agbor
23. Emuhun
24. Boji-Boji Agbor

The villages of Alisor, Alilehan and Ozanogogo are not Ika speaking. They speak an Edoid language known, especially to the Ika speakers, as Oza or Ozara.

Simpson (1936:6) quoted Talbot’s reference to the Origin of Agbor documented by the Dutch historian traveller Nyendael that describes an exodus from Benin before his visit in 1702. This exodus involved two families one of them "settled in Agbor while the other went to Obior."

Agbor oral tradition claimed that the village of Agbor-nta was the original headquarters of the old Agbor kingdom several centuries before Christ (Obuseh, n.d) while the first king to be accounted for in Ika oral tradition was Dein (1270-1307) . This is ambiguous since the kings of Agbor are traditionally called Dein unless one assumes that the title must have started from the first (accounted for) king of Agbor. The headquarters of Agbor has been moved several times until the recent in 1935 to Ime-obi (Anonymous, 1998:19). The reasons for the movement of the headquarters several times have been given as farming convenience and wars of succession. Since the old Agbor had always faced threats from the old Bini kingdom, it is also possible that the security of the headquarters from external invaders was an important consideration in the constant relocations of the headquarters.

In emphasising the relationship between all the Ika clans, Obuseh (n.d) recounts Agbor legend that states that all the founders of the Ika clans were related by blood. One of the kings of Agbor, Igbudu, fearing for his security sent his children, apart from Owuwu who was later crowned the Obi of Agbor after him, to settle distant from Agbor to form out posts against enemies. One of his children named Ika was sent south as protection against the Aboh people and founded Otolokpo clan, another son, Ede, was sent east and founded Umunede’. This, according to Agbor clan’s legend, was how all the clans were founded. Agbor’s oral tradition claims that all the Ika clans were part of the Agbor Kingdom. This kingdom, it claims, was ruled over by the Obi of Agbor with other clans as vassal states ruled by chiefs or perhaps kings that were subordinate to the Obi of Agbor. The oral tradition of the other Ika clans contradicts this claim

However kings of Agbor, at various times, had married several wives from other clans like Akumazi. Agbor regent, Ekeze’s (1929-34), married wives’ from other clans such as Akumazi and their families were given lands to settle in parts of existing villages in the Agbor clan, giving birth to new quarters in such villages. There are other instances where immigrants from other clans or ethnic groups like Ishan and Benin were given lands to settle away from the existing villages resulting in a new village being born. Such inter-marriages may partly explain some of the bonds existing between some of these clans especially among the royal families.

Alisimie village was founded by a great hunter from Benin called Ene while his friend, Adagbe, who migrated with him founded the quarter of Alijemisi in Alisimie village. People that fled Uteh-Okpu clan and sought refuge in Agbor clan after a kingship succession dispute founded Aliokpu village (Simpson 1936).

There are also villages that were founded by people who moved far way from Agbor. For instance the village of Ekuku-Agbor (see map 4) that is located in the far south of Ika south local government surrounded by villages of the Abavo and Owa clans and those of the Ukwuani speakers, was founded by by Ose the Ologbosere (War chief) of Agbor who was sent by the king of Agbor, Obi Madu, to stop the incursion of the Ukwuani people into Agbor land. Influential farmers founded the villages of Agbor-nta, Ewuru, Alihagwu and Alidinma while Ohumadia, the Elema (Agbor chief), who was sent to protect the southern border of Agbor land, founded the village of Oki (Simpson 1936).


Abavo shares borders with Agbor clan in the north, Owa clan in the east, the Edo speaking people of Uronigbe in the south. Abavo clan, also known as Awuu, comprises of five villages:

1. Ogbe-Obi (Abavo Central)
2. Azuowa (made up of four quarters: Ekwueze, Ekwuoma, Okpe, Oyoko)
3. Udomi
4. Igbogili
5. Obi-Ayima

In the account gathered by Forde and Jones (1967) on the founder of Abavo, they learnt that Awu who had the title of Eze (meaning a leader in Igbo) was himself from a place called Awu. This, perhaps, was stating the obvious that Awu was from Abavo. However, Abavo oral tradition claims their founding father, Awu, had migrated directly from Benin (Amokwu and Jegbefume, n.d). According to Abavo oral tradition, their founding father, Awu, was originally from Benin. He escaped from Bini kingdom around the 15th or 16th century to avoid being sacrificed and later settled at Abavo (Amokwu and Jegbefume, n.d).

Owa clan

Geographically, Owa clan shares borders with Agbor clan in the west by the Orogodo River and Abavo clan, in the north Orogodo (Agbor metropolis), in the east by Umunede, Otolokpo and Ute-Okpu clans. Owa clan is made up of the seven villages and a metropolis:

2. Alizomor
3.Owa Alidinma
5. Aliro
7. Owa-Eke
8. Boji-Boji Owa (a metropolis)

Owa has its origin in Nri, Northern Igbo (Forde and Jones 1967 and Isichei 1983). The founder of Oyibu village (also know as Owa Oyibu) was Odogu son of Ijie of Ute-Okpu (another Ika clan) who is from Nri (Northern Igbo) while "the other villages found in Owa clan are derived from Benin or other Agbor groups" (Forde and Jones 1967: 47). Oyibu village is the political centre of the Owa clan.

According to Whiting (1936), Owa oral tradition has it that Odogu angrily left Ute-Okpu and settled near the present site of Oyibu village because his brother, Okpu, inherited everything after his fathers death, while Odogu was away serving the Oba of Benin in wars. However Ufie, the founder of Ufie village presently in the Owa clan, had already settled in the present site of Ufie village on the directive of the Oba of Benin who had bestowed on him the Obi title. After Odogu settled in Oyibu, it was claimed that Ufie invited Odogu to his Ikenga festival. Odogu, impressed by the festival, decided to celebrate it himself at Oyibu. He then invited Ufie. According to the legend, Odogu deceived Ufie into taking a subservient role during a ritual sacrifice thereby serving him. This action was observed by Odogu’s subjects then proclaimed Odogu as greater than Ufie. Odogu then took the Obi title from Ufie. This, it is claimed, accounts for why Ufie is today a village in the Owa clan. Ozomo, Odogu’s brother who followed him from Ute-Okpu founded Alizomo village while Omi and his wife Iro who came from Benin founded Aliro village. Okue who came from Benin founded Owanta village. Later, Adie later arrived from Ute-Okpu to found Idumu Adie, a quarter in Owanta (Whiting 1936).

According to oral tradition, Ekei and his wife Abor who migrated from Benin when Ise was the Obi of Owa founded Owa-Eke village (Whiting’s 1936). However the village of Owa-Eke initially moved away from Owa due to problems with Ise the Obi of Owa and settled at Owanike in the Benin Kingdom but the Owanike village later split and one part returned to Owa-Ekei in Owa still considering themselves as subjects of the Oba of Benin while serving the Obi of Owa. Ugbebo who was sent there by Obi Gbenoba of Owa to protect Owa traders buying guns and gunpowder from the Kwales founded Alidinma village (Whiting 1936).

Concerning Boji-Boji, Whiting (1936) stated that "when the troops that came to Agbor station in 1906 the usual camp followers settled on the other bank of the Orogodo River where the settlement is known by the delightful name BOJI-BOJI. Nearly every tribe in Nigeria is represented and the only educated and progressive element in Owa is found here. They were originally allotted their land by the District Commissioner and later came under the control of the Obi of Agbor. In 1926 there was a dispute as a result of which the portion south of the main Agbor-Asaba road came under the Owa and is recognised as being part of the Owa village lands of Owanta and Owekei" (1936: 7).

Ute-Okpu Clan

Ute Okpu shares common borders with Agbor and Otolokpo clans in the north, Ekuku Agbor in the south, Idumuesa and Owa clans in the west and Ute-Ogbeje clan in the east. Ute-Okpu is made up of eight villages (Marshall 1936):

1. Ibi-Agware
2. Owele
3. Ogbe
4. Idumu Eze Aje
5. Odah
6. Alihe
7. Alumu
8. Enugu

Ute-Okpu people claim two sources of origin: Benin and the Igbo side of the Niger. In his account of the origin of the Ute-Okpu clan, Marshall (1936) stated that the original founder of Ute-Okpu was called Ute who migrated from Nri near the present Onitsha in Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria, after a quarrel with the Eze of Nshi (Nri). He settled near the present location of the village of Ibi-Agware. He had two sons Okpu and Odogu, Okpu later became the Obi of Ute-Okpu while Odogu later founded Oyibu village in Owa (1936: 3-4).

The dual claim in the origin of Owa clan appears to indicate the presence of an original Igbo group before there was contact with other groups of Benin origin. Isichei (1976) hypothesised that the present Ika region may have been inhabited by a group of people of Igbo origin. Isichei (1976) also hypothesised that there was a possibility that they existed in the location of Owa clan before Odogu became their leader their leader. It is not unusual for most Nigerian clans to trace the origin of their clan to their king’s origin. The first King is always considered the founding father of the clan even if some of these kings emerged or were imposed on them long after the founding of the clan. For instance the history of Benin is always traced to the first Oba of Benin, Oranmiyan, who himself was from the Yoruba town of Ife (Bradbury 1973). This, however, does not mean that the people of Benin are certainly from Ife themselves. Likewise, the Ika clans think of their history in ‘dynastic terms’.


Ute-Ogbeje is made up of four villages (Marshall 1936):

1. Ogbe Obi
2. Ogbe Akpu
3. Emike
4. Akpama

The origin of Ute-Ogbeje, like those of many other Ika clans, is surrounded in myth. According to Marshall (1936), the Ute-Ogbeje people claim that Ogbeje was the brother of the Oba of Benin and came with him to discover a place to live. The two brothers travelled by canoe. As they were paddling along a bird called Ukpoko dropped a snail into Ogbeje’s canoe. Ogbeje threw the snail overboard and land immediately surrounded him. Ogbeje decided to settle on this new land while the Oba moved on. Ogbeje then had a son, Inai, who succeeded him. Inai was extremely cruel and many of his subjects fled and formed a new settlement called Ute-Okpu (Marshall 1936). This account, however, seemed to contradict that of Ute-Okpu. Marshall writes further:

"There appears to be no doubt that there was some connection between Ute-Ogbeje and Ute-Okpu, but it is not impossible that the two branches of the Ute clan got separated in their easterly migration and came back at different times" (1936: 4).

Idumuesah clan

Idumuesah shares boundary with Ute-Okpu clan in the east, in west and south west by Abavo clan and Owa clan in the north. Idumuesah was founded by a group of people that migrated from Ugboha in Ishan, north of Ika community (Forde and Jones 1967; Whiting 1936). Whiting (1936: 22) states that "It is uncertain whether they came to their first settlement in what is known as the Agbo bush between Oyibu and Aliro before or after Odogu". He stated that Ibile, one of the founders, is said to have come from Ugboha in Ishan Division and to have joined with Abu from Aboh in Kwale District in settling in the Agbo bush. Oje and Ilor came from Uromi in Ishan Division and joined them (Whiting 1936). Idumuesah consists of four villages, which may once have been quarters (Idumu):

1. Iliobome
2. Aliobo
3. Alioje
4. Alilor

It should be known that the name Idumuesa means seven quarters (Idumus) but the above list of current villages shows only four villages. It is claimed that, "the other three which were said to have been very small, have returned to their home towns in other districts" (Whiting 1936: 24).

Whiting (1936) stated in his report that Owa claimed that Idumuesah served the Obi of Owa (Obi Ise) and revolted later but Idumuesah denied this. But the people of Idumuesah, for some controversial reasons, left their first settlement for their present site, which is south east of Oyibu but, according to Whiting, "they are unable to say why they left their old settlement" (1936: 23). N.E Whitings’ hypothesis is that "Owa, after overcoming Ufie by trickery, became full of their importance and tried to claim over-lordship over Idumuesah who refused and left their settlement. Whatever their particular reason for leaving the main reason was to escape from Owa and it is unlikely that they would settle on any other land claimed by Owa" (1936: 23).

In the early part of the 20th century, according to Whiting (1936: 24), "one Aholor was sent by the Obi of Owa with some Oyibu people to settle there and to be Obi of Idumuesah. He caused considerable trouble, committing arson and was eventually fined and ordered to leave Idumuesah. The Oyibu people were ordered to return to Oyibu and troops went to effect this evacuation. Aholor returned and was chased and eventually captured at Nsukwa. On his way to Agbor under escort he fell in a well near Igbodo and was drowned. His son Obakpolor tried to raise a claim to the Obi title but was ordered not to return to Idumuesah.

During the colonial period, 1906, Idumuesah was placed under Owa clan but became independent in 1907 (Whiting 1936). However, Whiting (1936) recounts that the British resident, in 1915 recorded that no Obi in Idumuesah could be recognised. The polittical authority in Idumuesah is vest in age. The Onyeichen (the oldest man) of Aliobome village is always the clan head. Whiting (1936) cited the record of the resident that in1919 and 1920 the elders of Idumuesah were informed that they were subordinate to Owa clan and that they raised no Objection" (1939: 24). The reasons for these decisions were not given. It is most likely the subordination referred may have had to do with their role or representation in the district court, then in Owa, where clans in the area were represented during the colonial period. Idumuesah has remained an independent clan like the other ten Ika clans even though it has no monarchical system found in the other Ika clans.

Mbiri clan

Mbiri clan lies in the north east of Agbor clan and off the Lagos-Benin-Onitsha highway. Mbiri’s oral tradition claims that Arun who migrated from Iwaisi, or the native doctor’s quarter in Benin founded Mbiri. Arun, a hunter, reached the present site of Mbiri on one of his hunting expeditions and settled down there. Mbiri’s oral tradition also claims that Arun had four sons three of whom were responsible for the founding of the following towns: Ewuhimi, Mbiri and Igbanke. The fourth son is claimed to have returned to Benin (Intelligence report 1932).
Mbiri adopted the monarchical system, based on Benin tradition, found in most Ika clans. According to Intelligence report (1932), "1n 1915 the Mbiris attempted to put themselves directly under the Oba of Benin, and sent a large sum of money to the Oba to gain this end. It is obvious that it was at this time that the present Chief went to Benin and received the title of Obi from the Oba, along with the Ada, or ceremonial sword, which forms part of the regalia of this title. They were again visited by the district District Commissioner who told them that they were part of Agbor District and could not therefore come under Benin"(Intelligence report 1932: 10). The Mbiri clan has the same political system as other Ika clans.

Umunede clan

Umunede occupies a strategic location along the Lagos-Benin-Onitsha highway. Umunede shares its borders with Agbor clan in the east, Igbodo in the north, Akumazi in the east, Otolokpo and Owa clans in the south. There are four villages (ogbe) in Umunede:

1. Ogbe Obi
2. Idumuilege
3. Idumugba
4. Idumuile

Although there of the villages above still retain the idumu (quarter) prefix in their names they are villages. These are perhaps some examples of quarters expanding in size and then forming villages.

Umunede’s oral tradition, like those of most of the Ika clans, traces their origin to Benin. However, Stanfield (1936: 1) states the following about his observations of the Umunede people:

From legend of their origin are of Bini descent, but in their language and social structure they resemble closely the Ibos of the Ogwashi and Uburukwu clans in the Asaba Division.

According to Stanfield (1939: 8), "there were no titles in Umunede until 1919 when the then Eze (named Niago) obtained an Ada from Eweka, Oba of Benin." This resulted in the first Obi title and the start of the monarchical system like those found in some of the Ika clans.


Otolokpo shares borders with Umunede and Akumazi clans in the north, Ute-Ogbeje clan in the east, Ute-Okpu in the south and Owa and Umunede in the west. There are seven villages in Otolokpo:

1. Ogbe Obi
2. Idumu -Oji
3. Achala
4. Idumu-Okete
5. Idumu-Obome
6. Umuhu
7. Alugba

According to Stanfield (1936), Gbobo, from Benin founded all villages apart from Umuhu, formed by migrants from Agbor, and Alugba village formed by migrants from Ute-Ogbeje (Standfield 1936).

Akumazi and Igbodo clans

Akumazi clan shares borders with Umunede in the west, Igbodo in the north, Otolokpo in the South and the Anoicha speaking town of Obior in the east. They trace their origin to Benin from where their founder fled (Simpson 1936).

Igbodo occupies an area in the north east of the Ika North local government area. It share border with Akumazi in the south, Mbiri in the west, the Ishan groups in the North and the Anoicha groups in the east. Like many of the Ika clans, they trace their origin to Benin (Fordes and Jones 1967).

In summary, while Owa and Ute-Okpu, Ute-Ogbeje have their origin in both Igbo and Benin areas, Agbor, Abavo Ute-Ogbeje, Akumazi, Umunede, Igbodo and Mbiri trace their clans to a single source, Benin (Fordes and Jones 1967: 47). Idumuesah traces its origin to Ishan but there also are villages that may have been established by people of Ukwuani origin. While Otolokpo traces its origin to Benin there are also villages in Otolokpo that trace their origin to Agbor.

The relationship among all the Ika clans appear to be mainly in their Benin origin as well as a population shift, for various reasons, which resulted in movement or relocation of villages from one clan to another forming new allegiances as well retaining their former relationship with their origin.

Ika Speakers outside the Ika community:

Igbanke clan

Igbanke clan is north of the Ika south local government area. It is located in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State. Orhionmwon Local government area, except for Igbanke, is mainly an Ishan language speaking area. Igbanke is made up of six villages (Osunde, 2000):

1. Ake
2. Igbontor
3. Ottah
4. Idumodin
5. Umolua
6. Oligie

All six villages speak the Ika language. Farmers from Ishan and Agbor villages who settled in this area, which is within Benin territory, founded the five original villages, namely Ake, Igbontor, Otta Idumodin and Umolua. Oligie village, the sixth village in the Igbanke clan, is claimed by Oligie people to have been founded by Ottor from Benin (Kerr, 1937; Simpson, n.d).

Some References

A short history of Abavo. Unpublished.

A brief history of Agbor kingdom. In Agbor Day ’98. And launching of a N5 Million Development Fund. Agbor Development committee(1998).

Amokwu, G & Jegbefume, H. (1969) History of Abavo Town. Unpublishedmanuscript.

Forde, D. & Jones, G. (1967). The Ibo and Ibiobio-speaking Peoplesof South-Eastern Nigeria. London: Stone & Cox Ltd.

Isichei, E. (1983) A history of Nigeria. London: Longman.

Isichei, E, (1976) A history of the Igbo people. London: The Macmillan press LTD.

Obuseh, J.B. (n.d) Agbor Kingdom. Unpublished.

Osae, T, and Nwabara, S. (1977). A short history of West Africa. London:Hodder and Stoughton.

Further reading on Ika History: Rejoinder By Steve Nwabuzor PhD

3 Comments on The Ika people

  1. ika people are original igbos ,who escaped dutch slave ship at a place called ughoton river in edo state,ughoton river once served as european trade post.they were given asylum by benin chiefs.the king of benin is the one who gave that land agbor to igbo run away slaves.the igbos have no king or queens right from time,they have no armies,they were just running all over african forest like animals,gangstalking and kidnapping their own people, selling them to european slave traders for cowries.that is why they were more in transatlantic slave the olden days the kings are the head of the armies.the igbos have no king or queens.they were badly enslaved.blessed be our most high SUN,slavery had been abolished.igbos are todays jamaicans,barbadians,belizeans,cubans and afro-americans.those africans who escaped from a stranded ship at ecuador are todays african ecuadorians,nothing good comes easy.every thing has a price.their chieftainsy was organized by british navys.

  2. Titi trinity, your submissions are according to your imaginations. Most Ika clans came from Benin. The Ibos farmers and traders came later and mixed up with the original settlers from Benin.

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